US Ambassador: Terrorist groups may use the coronavirus pandemic to strike back
In a callout for vigilance, US Ambassador Sung Kim has warned that terrorists use global crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to strike.
“Terrorists view a global crisis as an opportunity. So public officials must be vigilant against this threat, even in the midst of a public health crisis,” Kim said in his opening remarks during a virtual workshop on counterterrorism earlier this week.
The ambassador added that “no country can fight the battle against terrorism alone because terrorists recognize no borders and they honor no laws.”
Officials from the US Department of Justice in Washington, Department of Justice in the Philippines and a Philippine judge participated in the virtual workshop on counterterrorism hosted by the US Department of Justice’s Office of Overseas Prosecutorial Development, Assistance and Training in the Philippines on May 11.
The workshop, which included 65 participants, focused on ways to enhance US-Philippine collaboration and coordination on terrorist investigations and prosecutions, despite the ongoing pandemic.
“I am confident that the initiatives like this workshop will continue to strengthen our shared fight against terrorism,” Kim said.
Deputy Assistant Attorney General Bruce Swartz of the US Department of Justice’s Criminal Division explained the use of battlefield evidence is critical in criminal prosecution and cooperation among governments in sharing that information.
“Police and prosecutors need to work collectively around the world. This is a worldwide partnership to identify terrorists that threaten citizens of all nations. I look forward to the work we continue to do together in fighting terrorism,” Swartz said.
Philippine Prosecutor General Benedicto Malcontento said “terrorist activities continue, making our lives even more difficult” despite the pandemic and the call for ceasefire by the United Nations and the Philippine government.
“Clearly, COVID or no COVID, terrorists have no agenda for peace. Their aim is destruction of lives and properties. It is but fitting that we face these enemies with the full force of our laws,” Malcontento said.